By Troy Hasselman, March 27 2019 —
The Coming Out Monologues, YYC returned to the city for its 10th anniversary edition, showcasing the voices and talents of LGBTQ+ individuals from around our province and country. From its beginnings as a single-night event at the University of Calgary in 2009, the Coming Out Monologues has grown into multiple nights in progressively bigger venues, running this year at the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall at the Central Public Library.
The monologues ran from March 20–23 this year with performances ranging from spoken word to video pieces to music and dance giving Calgary’s LGBTQ+ community a spotlight to speak their experiences through their preferred medium.
This year’s Friday performance typified the event by using music, monologues and video to tell different stories from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
The evening opened with the introduction of guest emcee William Bridel from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Kinesiology. Bridel proved to be an effective host for the evening, speaking on his experience growing up as a figure skater in Aurora, Ontario in the 1970s, wittily bantering with the crowd and boosting their excitement with his clear enthusiasm for the event and its performances. He made costume changes throughout the night, emerging in a shirt decorated with hearts that he said represented his love for the event, switching up to a white button-up and bow tie after the intermission and finally wearing a Coming Out Monologues T-shirt at the night’s end.
The first monologue by Brandon Howse spoke of the issues surrounding parenthood as a trans person in Transparent, which covered a trans person’s confusion with gender identity upon becoming pregnant with a child and their struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety. The piece analyzed the difficulties parenthood can present to a trans person in accepting their own identity.
The next monologue, I Want a Gay Fairytale by Kerry-Leigh Fox, focused on the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in media and the role that can have in relieving closeted kids dealing with the isolation and trauma of being in the closet.
Both performances were received by rapturous applause. The crowd was wholeheartedly supportive of all performers involved and created the welcoming, inclusive environment the events aims for.
After an intermission, the second half began with a video piece telling the story of Mexican immigrant Oscar Omar, who entered Canada in October 2017 after fleeing persecution for his sexuality in his native Mexico. Upon arriving in Canada he stayed in the Calgary airport for six days after arriving in the city with $400 in his pocket, unable to speak English. He spoke of his support from the Canadian organization Rainbow Railroad and the help they gave him in settling into Canada and his process of gaining asylum, which he was granted in early 2019.
The final monologue of the evening was delivered by Globe & Mail restaurant critic Dan Clapson telling his story of growing up closeted in rural Saskatchewan in a way that was both funny and poignant.
Both halves of the show ended with music from non-binary Calgary musician and self-proclaimed Métis prince Damase Ellis, who played songs from their 2017 release Into the Waves. The songs demonstrated a jazz-influenced folk songwriting with lyrical topics such as unrequited love and the death of Anne Boleyn. Ellis was charming in their between-song banter, showing a dry, witty sense of humor to add some levity to their affecting material.
The evening ended with a standing ovation for all performers involved and a plea for unity in the LGBTQ+ community during a tumultuous time. The 10th edition of the Coming Out Monologues, YYC took place in a different city than the one it started in but one where the struggle for equality continues, with this performance offering a space for expression of members of the LGBTQ+ community to tell their own stories.